To work effectively with project partners in India, it is imperative to focus on the possible areas of friction between an objective and a relationship-based work style. For example, an objective work style predominantly focuses on technical expertise. The Indian relationship-based work style places emphasis on hierarchy and status. And while many Western business cultures focus more on reliable planning, accuracy, and commitment, the Indian business culture tends to be more flexible, spontaneous, and pragmatic.
To unite the best of both worlds for your project management in India, an in-depth, appreciative communication process on an equal footing is essential. The common goal, the actions required to achieve it and the time frame must be constantly checked.
Also, keep in mind that Indians prefer a strong project manager who makes clear announcements and sets the direction.
Communication – and a lot more communication than many Western managers would think is appropriate – is the be-all and end-all in working with Indians. Questioning, reminding, replaying and repeating are par for the course.
The obligation to collect always lies with the project manager. It is up to them to inform themselves how things are going and to check whether the report is in line with the facts.
Continuous supervision is an essential part of project management in India. The project manager must also clearly state what needs to be done. This also applies to activities that are part of the daily routine. “Always and continuously” is, therefore, the motto of communication.
Keeping the flow of information running at all times will lead to good results when managing projects in India!
Deadlines And Dates
Difficulties in working with Indians repeatedly arise due to a different understanding of time.
Deadlines should be communicated to the Indian side as absolutely binding. It would help if you also made it clear which date is the exact end date. To eliminate misunderstandings, you as the project manager must keep yourself informed about the current stages of the process. Only close communication with those responsible prevents the joint project from spiralling out of control.
Developing a feeling for your Indian partner’s perception of time helps to initially plan a rather ample lead time and play it safe. But even during this period, constant communication is required to keep your project management in India on track.
Preventing problems in the work process through efficient, culturally sensitive communication on both sides is not always achieved. Nevertheless, the key to solving issues lies in targeted and regular communication.
Talking to each other in a protected space, looking at the different perspectives and recalling common goals and interests is key to successful project management in India.
It is useless to let your anger run wild and describe everyone involved in the project as incapable, unwilling or stupid. The project manager loses face and forfeits his authority. Indians feel personally attacked, react in an offended way and adopt a defensive attitude.
An error analysis, in which a clear separation between person and thing takes place, contributes to the problem solution. Looking forward is the best policy.
It is equally important, however, to be fully open to the creative contribution of Indians to resolving any problems that may arise.
When it comes to innovation and creative performance, studies have shown that teams where people from different cultures work together perform better. It is precisely the diversity and differences that give them the edge over single cultural working groups.
A good team atmosphere is supported by frequent interaction, which includes communicating personally rather than just on a professional level. It is also essential to consider the person as a colleague instead of someone from a specific culture. Everyone has their cultural imprint, which they become aware of when faced with a different culture than their own.
You become aware that the behavioural patterns you have practised in your country of origin are not the only successful ones. This can confuse you, as you will have to add new ways of doing things to your range of activities. Respect for the other culture and its patterns, openness and empathy are the attitudes that will foster mutual appreciation. This does not happen as a matter of course, however, but must be worked on and not hindered by the team members.
Extract from Business Culture India, Courtesy of CONBOOK Verlag